Government Street Stop Motion

Savannah Hofman
1 / 1

Dr. Hendry would probably tell me to find something more specific to focus in on with the gentrification because right now my research is too broad. 

I'm going to focus in on that intersection Dr. D proposed the other day that is from Park to Acadian. I'm not really sure what kind of stories can be uncovered but I'm excited to see what I can uncover from this project. 


Writing Pieces: Final Project

Sara Be

REFLECTION

I first came to know this area when I happened to pass by an Advocate article sharing of a small coffee shop nestled on Scotland Avenue in North Baton Rouge. The shop was called Southern Grind and was founded by a local named Horatio Isadore. The area was historically poor and underdeveloped, so Mr. Isadore’s core focus was to bring economic development and life to his community through Southern Grind.

 I was immediately drawn into this story of my city from an area I had never been in.  How did I know nothing of the entire northern half of the city I grew up in? I wanted to explore the place myself, gain a firsthand experience.  I drove to up Scotland Avenue and parked my car along the street, right up next to the coffee shop. I was uncomfortable being in a completely foreign area but my interest far overcame that insecurity.

When walking and driving around the area, I admired the beautiful wall murals that adorned the building. All of them had distinct themes and history that told me things about the community I was experiencing. Many were influenced by Christianity, including crosses and quotes from the Bible. Others tied back to the Civil War and Civil Rights era, one depicting the heroic Harriet Tubman against the darkness of the Ku Klux Klan. The murals were bright and beautiful; I immediately knew that I had to incorporate them into my project because of the messages they encapsulated and the significance they seemed to have to the community.

From my experiences watching and listening in the area, I learned that the place was much more than the economically underdeveloped group of buildings that it was perceived as. The people here were bright, hardworking, happy people, that most of all cared deeply for one another. The sense of community was strong, and people worked their jobs not only for the salary but to lift each other up.


SOUTHERN GRIND

I walked into the dim lighting of the coffee shop and immediately the loud sound of the cars racing down the road outside diminished as jazzy tunes came into focus. The walls were painted blue, one side decorated with portraits and the other holding a large bookshelf.  Sitting on a stool was a mother cradling her child. I recognized Mr. Isadore from the Advocate article as he stood behind the counter, and went up to speak to him. After ordering a smoothie, I explained my project to him and inquired about the start of his business. He described his community as “good people that deserve something more.” Mr. Isadore started off his career with a coffee shop at nearby Southern University. However, when looking at his own street, he was disheartened to see the darkness and lack of activity it possessed. His new coffee shop was a light to the street; it not only brought economic growth to the area but a safe, controlled place that residents could utilize freely.  

The coffee shop serves the whole community. It provides a setting with desks and wifi not only for students but for adults that have hectic lives and no places to work. Just in my single visit, I saw a mother working with her child on her hip. Furthermore, Southern Grind acted as a place to have discussions and lectures regarding political and societal issues. Adjacent to the menu was a schedule of events that would concern topics including the promotion of black business and discussions with local police about maintaining the peace. Through these gatherings, Mr. Isadore transformed the coffee shop into a place that would foster new thought and connections between people. It is easy to take spaces such as this for granted when you go to a school like Episcopal, but Southern Grind provides something that is truly valued in its community.


Kutt’n Korners

The second I opened the door I heard a practically unanimous “WHO ARE YOU?” followed by a chorus of laughter. The owner since 2006, Shawn Ruffin, chuckled, “We can’t do your hair here. This is a barber shop.” I laughed along and explained my project to them. Sitting in one of the waiting chairs, the sweetest pitbull came up and greeted me. After some time petting the dog, I approached the owner. Mr. Ruffin agreed to participate in an interview with me, and began telling me  his story in relation to his business. He explained that he originally had wanted to be a cop but never had the chance and began his barbershop business “just to survive”. However, as time passed he realized what his business did for the community.

He said to me, “Really came from a dream, woke up cutting hedges, realized I can does this. That was crazy to me. I don’t even know how I ended up with clippers. I thank God though for even the opportunity to be in a community like this and serving people like this because I never thought I would be behind the chair, you know, never thought I would be behind the barber chair.” Cutting hair, having conversations, it has an effect on people’s spirits, making them feel confident in themselves and in each other.

Final Review

Lara Rende
1 / 13

Stop Motion Video

Karin deGravelles and Sara Be
1 / 1

Government Street Stop Motion

Savannah Hofman
1 / 1

Dr. Hendry would probably tell me to find something more specific to focus in on with the gentrification because right now my research is too broad. 

I'm going to focus in on that intersection Dr. D proposed the other day that is from Park to Acadian. I'm not really sure what kind of stories can be uncovered but I'm excited to see what I can uncover from this project. 


Portfolio

Sara Be
1 / 14

Pick Up a Book

Alyssa Macaluso
1 / 1

Reflection

Lara Rende
1 / 2

There are many different causes that create boundaries within the city. One of the most apparent ones that I noticed was the highways and how they divided striking distinctions in population. This physical boundary causes distinct differences in the population where one side of the road was heavily populated and the other was almost deserted. However, there are also some boundaries that are not as physical as road and highways. Things such as household income and flood areas create great boundaries, too. For example, there is a very clear correlation between poverty levels and the density of public schools. Along with these, the high school graduation levels also align with these maps.

The most intriguing overlap for me was between the hospitals and population density maps. The area where most of the hospitals are located is not heavily populated. However, around the North Baton Rouge, where there is a significant population density, there are limited hospitals, which are mostly closed, anyways. Priorly, I’d think that hospitals are built according to the level of necessity. I thought more population would lead to a higher need for hospitals, but apparently, this is not the case in Baton Rouge. The area around Bluebonnet is one of the places I’d investigate further to learn what required two hospitals to be built there within a mile radius.

After the interview with my aunt, she suggested that Government Street would be an interesting place to investigate. I didn’t realize it before, but when I compared the maps again, I realized how the area around Government Street was a mix of all qualities. There were houses with both high and low incomes. Thus, there were a few public schools along with some private ones. Also, this area was one of the few where both races (black and white) were almost mixed, instead of having a clear separation like in the other parts of the city. I agree with my aunt now that the area around Government Street would be an interesting place to investigate. Seemingly, there are no clear boundaries in the area, but maybe I’ll get a different view if I go there.

One thing I’ve learned throughout this assignment was how we couldn’t consider one aspect of the city by itself. Most of the layers we’ve compared aligned really well with each other and showed many parallels, such as the household income and high school graduation rate maps. With these maps, I also had the chance to take a step back and look at the city as a whole. Looking at the city, I saw the inequality and the stark separation between races. Northern areas here African American people were more present were also the areas with most condemned houses. Why were these two features directly proportional, though? Was it also because of the low household incomes? To understand one fact about the city, we may need to look through many layers and only when we put every layer together and take a step back, we can see the actual map of Baton Rouge.

Reflection

Sara Be
1 / 2


     From prior knowledge, I knew that Baton Rouge was a racially divided city. But it wasn’t until I mapped it that I realized how racially divided it truly was. I found the map on the Advocate, and saw that white people and black people were for the most part divided along Florida Boulevard. I was shocked to see such a clear separation of race. How was such a stark division created? What were the results of this divide? 

     Unsettlingly, maps of household income and high school graduation correlated perfectly with the racial dot map. High school graduation percentages and household incomes came to a sharp drop north of Florida Boulevard. It was disheartening to see that racial disparities remain a significant problem to this day. I also made a distinct connection between education and wealth. Truly the only way to break the poverty cycle is through quality education. When graduation rates were low, so were incomes. These maps show clear segregation in Baton Rouge. Although I am disappointed, I can’t say I am surprised. Reintegrating our community would be a long process, one that would be very worth it in my opinion. I think that the demographics of the city would be altered drastic, positive ways if action was taken to integrate.

     Based on my research through this project, I am interested to explore these areas: north of Florida Boulevard, on the shores of the Mississippi River, and along Florida Boulevard itself. Although I have lived in Baton Rouge my entire life, I have now discovered areas that I have rarely visited or not set foot on at all. I want to discover the versions of Baton Rouge that I was unaware of. I want to explore how living by a major body of water effects one’s lifestyle, and how a single road can become a divider of people.

DNA of the City Reflection

Alyssa Macaluso
1 / 4

What boundaries become apparent?

In particular, the boundary between North Baton Rouge and South Baton Rouge became very apparent in almost all of the population-related map layers. Whether in maps displaying race, education, income, access to resources, or unsuitable buildings, there is a clear disparity between South Baton Rouge and North Baton Rouge. In general, there were mostly African American and Asian people north of Florida Boulevard and mostly white people south of the boulevard; educational attainment levels (percent of the population in each census district who graduated high school) and median household income closely followed racial patterns, with higher percentages of those who did not complete high school and lower median household incomes in areas where African Americans reside with the opposite true in the majority of areas where white people reside. In addition, the majority of condemned buildings can be found in North Baton Rouge, with only a few in South Baton Rouge. When examining the layers of population distribution and hospital locations, many hospitals are clustered in areas of low population density, with the majority of hospitals falling below Florida Boulevard (Only six of the seventeen hospitals are north of or on Florida Boulevard.). 

What correlations can you draw?

The clearest correlations that I found were those between race, place of residence in the city, the median income of their district, and the educational attainment of their district. Generally, there was a positive correlation between African American populations living in north-bound districts with lower median incomes and higher levels of educational attainment. There was also a positive correlation between white populations residing in more southern districts with higher median incomes and lower levels of educational attainment. 

What boundary overlaps struck you as most intriguing and why?

I'm most fascinated by the Population Density + Hospital Location layers, as well as the  Median Household Income + Condemned Buildings layers and Median Household Income + Educational Attainment + Racial Boundaries layers. I think these layers are like jigsaw pieces that come together to form a completed puzzle of the Baton Rouge area. Each piece tells its own story, but each story is important to understanding the complicated, touchy racial, economic, and educational challenges the Baton Rouge population has faced in the past and is facing now. I think choosing just one piece to focus on doesn't relay the whole picture, and I think it's important to look at multiple layers so that all the perspectives possible can inform the viewer's opinion on the data in front of them. 

What do these maps tell us about Baton Rouge as a city?

They tell us that Baton Rouge may have declared racial equality a long time ago, but that we still have a long way to go before actual equality is secured. In future investigations, I'd like to look at Government Street in more detail. Government Street is one of the most intriguing streets in the city, in my opinion. Currently, it's going through a gentrification crisis of sorts as hip, millennial boutiques and restaurants flood one end of the street and downtown another. Past the facade of artistically crumbling walls, however, is a story of poverty. In the neighborhoods just past the street, many people, mainly African Americans, live in poverty, but with the area becoming more and more hip, there is an interesting dichotomy between "saving" an area that's fallen from great heights and "destroying" traditions and a neighborhood build on trust and long-time family. Other places I'd be interested in looking at are places with similar contrasts between populations who live there. For example, I'd like to look at the contrast between Bluebonnet Boulevard - a middle- to an upper-class neighborhood where bullets end up in squirrels and the stray possum - and Gardere, where bullets end up in people. Lastly, I'd like to look at the north end of LSU's campus; to the north, poverty reigns, but to the south the college-bound are immersed in knowledge, with only a plantation and a few restaurants bridging the gap between the two worlds. All of these places examine the intersection of poverty, race, access, and lifestyles of the people of Baton Rouge.